A. General Description of the Application
- TLD String(s) Requested.
New Services, Other.
SRI International (“SRI”) requests the .geo TLD to provide a complete, virtually free-of-charge, and open infrastructure for referencing and discovering Georeferenced information on the Internet. SRI’s .geo request applies to services generally not available on the Internet today and qualifies for the new services category, other group.
- Sponsor, Registry Operator and Subcontractor.
SRI is a non-profit research institute, incorporated in the state of California and headquartered in Menlo Park, California with 1,400 researchers, scientists, technologies and business consultants. SRI has been in operations for over 50 years. Its stated mission is to "promote and foster the application of science in the development of commerce, trade and industry [for the] prosperity of mankind". SRI plans to form a new body within SRI called the .geo Forum to provide explicit oversight of a new .geo TLD. The .geo Forum will be responsible for formulating policy and standards for the .geo TLD and for establishing and operating an open and consultative framework and process. SRI will be responsible for all management and support staff of the .geo Forum and for implementing a communication and marketing strategy for these activities.
b. Registry Operator.
The JVTeam, LLC ("JVTeam") is a newly formed, limited liability company organized under the laws of the state of Delaware, created to function as a registry. JVTeam's parent companies are NeuStar, Inc. ("NeuStar") and Melbourne IT Ltd. ("Melbourne"). Melbourne was founded in 1996 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Melbourne. In 1999 Melbourne became a publicly traded company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Melbourne's products and services include: (1) domain name registration, maintenance and related service and products, (2) advanced telecommunications services and products, (3) an incubator program and (4) research and development. Melbourne's principal place of business is Melbourne, Australia. NeuStar, a Delaware corporation, was originally founded in 1996 as an independent communications industry services business unit within Lockheed Martin. NeuStar designed, built and continues to manage one of the largest databases in the world and now serves as the North American Numbering Plan Administrator. It operates the telephone numbering registry for the North American Numbering Plan as a Public numbering resource. NeuStar is also the Local Number Portability Administrator for the US and Canada, operating the routing registry, the Number Portability Administration Center Service Management System for North America. NeuStar's principal place of business is in Washington, D.C.
- Registry-Registrar Model.
SRI does not anticipate the need for domain name registrars per se during the initial test period because GeoRegistries will communicate directly with the general TLD registry to register cell server domain names. Instead, traditional domain name registrars can be accredited as GeoRegistrars thereby providing significant competition amongst GeoRegistrars.
B. Technical Review
- Summary Description of Proposal.
The .geo TLD would contain names organized by geographical coordinates. They envision servers registering interest in handling geographical information for particular areas, which would result in creation of names specific to that server. Georegistry servers of this kind would essentially maintain databases of information about their areas (maps, restaurants, temperature and weather, etc.) and would respond to queries with matching URLs. The TLD registry’s role is simply to organize the namespace and maintain mappings to the servers. SRI will lead a fairly open group to run policies and procedures. JVTeam will run the actual hardware and software supporting the registry
- Support of the Business Plan by the Technical Plan.
a. Total Capacity.
The conditions under which names are registered are very different for this proposal and total capacity must be calculated somewhat differently. It depends primarily on the resolution of chopping up the world into cells (each of which gets a name), rather than on popularity of the underlying service. SRI’s best estimate is 2-3 million names. They should be able to support this level.
b. Projected Growth Rate.
A large number of names will be registered before the service even is brought up. Subsequent registrations will likely occur in batches, when a new server is accepted to handle a particular geographic area. The likely result is that growth beyond the initial period will be relatively small and bursty, though the novel nature of the proposal makes projections difficult.
c. Startup Period.
The startup period should not be problematic since SRI can pre-register the geographic cell names before turning on the service. A heavy-duty accreditation process limits the number of other requests that will be sent quickly.
d. Fault Tolerance.
The JVTeam understands and plans for fault.
The JVTeam understands security problems well and should be able to handle them. The special characteristics of this TLD also allow special, easier security solutions (such as distribution of public keys to all possible registrants) that are not suitable for other TLDs.
- Summary of Relevant Experience.
SRI has excellent Internet naming credentials, though they are old. They are not as well known for running fault tolerant, secure facilities, but JVTeam will handle these aspects, and is eminently qualified. SRI has strong experience on dealing with innovative ideas in networking and databases.
- Apparent Implementation Risks.
This proposal foresees an entirely different use of the name space, though some ad hoc commercial operations offer limited versions of what they propose through special interfaces. Because it is so different and untested, it is possible that it will be a complete failure, either because there are unforeseen problems with making the concept work or because the Internet community does not embrace the idea.
The business plan relies on very expensive buy-ins by geo-registry servers. If SRI is unsuccessful in finding enough people willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to participate, they will be unable to fund the kind of facilities necessary to run the registry
The value of the system relies on participation by many third parties who will need to go through an extensive accreditation procedure and will have to do much work to be a useful participant. If the system does not draw sufficient numbers of third party participants, the system may fail because it does not offer useful services for enough geographical areas.
- Available of Human, Operational and Technical Resources to Cope with Unexpected Events.
SRI does not specify which of its people will actually be involved with this work. However, they have a high quality workforce that is capable of handling many difficult problems. JVTeam will handle the running of the registry, and it is qualified to deal with many surprises in the area of failures, security, and load.
- Advancing the State of the Art.
This is a revolutionary proposal that suggests an entirely new style of usage for the Internet and its naming system. The use of the name system to point to locations where data is stored based on geographical information is extremely novel. This proposal has very strong potential to change how the Internet is used, if it is successful at all.
- Other Comments.
The novelty of the proposal makes it stand out from the vast majority of all other proposals.
C. Business Review
- Applicant’s Representations.
SRI plans to make geospatial knowledge available to all Internet users. SRI is a non-profit research organization. SRI has 1,400 employees and for the year ended December 25, 1999 had total assets of $272 million and revenues of $332 million.
The operator is the JVTeam formed by Melbourne, and NeuStar. Melbourne offers domain name registration and maintenance, advanced telecommunications, incubator program, and research and development. In 1996 Melbourne became the delegated administrator of the com.au domain space and in 1999 was selected to be one of the five test-bed registrars for the introduction of competition in the .com, .net, and .org domain space. NeuStar offers regulated services and deregulated commercial services. NeuStar operates the telephone numbering registry for the North American Numbering Plan and serves as the Local Number Portability Administrator. The JVTeam can draw upon 353 people, 238 of those are actively engaged in technical disciplines.
The mission of the JVTeam is to provide the next generation domain name registry and to contribute positively to the evolution of the domain system. The .geo TLD will provide a complete and open infrastructure for registering and discovering Georeferenced information on the Internet. Georeferenced information is information that represents a geographically located place, object, or process with a geographic location.
The revenue model for .geo is based on licenses and fees including; a registry ICANN fee, registry sponsor fee, GeoRegistry accreditation license, cell server registration fee, GeoRegistrar accreditation license, and Geodata registration fee. The market is projected to be both broader and more intense than the geographical information systems market. The market falls into three categories; the discovery of Georeferenced information, the analysis of Georeferenced information, and the collaboration of Georeferenced information.
- ICANN’s Evaluation.
Strengths include the sponsor’s resources and operator’s capabilities, experience, and resources. The weaknesses include the difficulty of defining the market and whether the market will accept this new service. Overall, this application could lead to a successful new TLD given the above factors.
D. Summary of Public Comments
- Number of Comments.
- Support for the Application.
“.geo TLD will provide simple access to geospatial data.”
The proposal would serve the purpose of “integrating location data into the substance of the Web.”
The proposal would provide significant benefits to travelers and researchers.
The proposal would be “a vast improvement over present methods for searching for geographic content on the Internet”
The proposal would allow for more direct links between final tourism consumers and hotel and tour operators, which would promote a more equitable distribution of gains from trade and tourism.
3D images and virtual reality on the web will benefit from .geo.
.geo proposal will help to “humanize the web.”
- Opposition to Application.
“The ‘.geo Forum’ to be established within SRI, may not reflect the wider needs of the geospatial community.”
One comment pointed out a lack of accountability to the geospatial community (several suggestions made regarding how to make administration of .geo more representative).
One commentator pointed out the failure of the proposal to address treatment of disputed cells (such as Kashmir).
There is, according to one commentator, no clearly demonstrated need for a TLD to accomplish the goals of the proposal.
The proposal also failed to address some implementation issues.
- Substantive Comments and/or Questions.
“There are initiatives at the national and global level known as Spatial Data Infrastructures in which the coordination and discovery of earth-related phenomena are being specified today. The dot-geo proposal confuses this coordination landscape by proposing an untested solution.” (The same commentator made numerous technical critiques of the proposal).
“The .geo proposal offers a novel and efficient use of the DNS for indexing and searching all data on the Web based upon a physical geospatial coordinate.”